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Monday, March 2, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 7.0° F  Fair
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Working the nightshift

There is a Wall Street in Madison, but it's doing much better than the other Wall Street, the one that's in the middle of the financial market meltdown going on now. That's because the Madison Wall Street, tagged with the family name of the man who built it, developer Terrence Wall, is located in a far-east-side project called High Crossing Environs. That's one of the many successful real estate schemes perpetrated by the brash young real estate magnate. Wall, who has never been afraid to speak his mind, is profiled in our cover story this week, "Up Against T. Wall."

But the article is especially significant to me because it is the last cover story written as an Isthmus staffer by Tom Laskin, who ends an 18-year tenure on the paper this week. Primarily a music critic, Laskin plied his craft in the bars and concert halls of this city, charting the courses of innumerable rock star wannabes in the dark hours. His schedule would bring him into the office near the end of the normal workday to retrieve his mail, which might include baskets of CDs and videos. I passed him so often on my way out of the office while he was on his way in that I took to calling him "Nightshift."

The first words from Tom Laskin to appear in Isthmus were in June 1983, but he was the subject, not the author, of the article in which they appeared. As the lead singer and founding member of the popular punk band Appliances SFB, Laskin was quoted by Phil Davis in his feature article about the band. It wasn't until June 1985 that he appeared in Isthmus as an author, penning a "Scenes" assignment describing crowd behavior at an Iron Maiden concert at the Dane County Coliseum. (Maiden-heads had caused a lot of damage at the band's appearance the year before, but this time were subdued.) There followed a string of record and performance reviews as a freelancer until August 1990, when he joined the staff full time.

Laskin's beat has consisted mainly of music and arts reportage. But he has a knowledge of food and has written on the subject from time to time. He has also done stories on local development, à la his profile of Wall. He leaves the paper because the current economic situation has caused Isthmus to reduce staff. We will all miss his laconic presence and his imaginative word usage, but we won't worry about him. He's a brilliant man with two master's degrees. He should have no trouble doing as well as he's done here elsewhere in the world of work. Unless, of course, the world of work goes down the tubes following that other Wall Street.

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